NJAMHAA Celebrates 65 Years of Building Partnerships and Rebuilding Lives
Providers and other Stakeholders to Be Honored at Annual Conference April 13, 2016
NJAMHAA is celebrating its 65th anniversary and its evolution over the years to strengthen member organizations as the behavioral health industry has undergone major changes that affect delivery of services to the increasing number of individuals in need.
“We certainly have come a long way since our trade association was established in 1951 as the New Jersey Association of Mental Hygiene Clinics. Not only have we changed our name to be representative of the industry, but we also have been at the forefront of advocating on behalf of members and the individuals they serve when major changes – such as managed care back in the mid-1990s and again today, along with the transition to Fee-for-Service reimbursement – were being planned,” said Debra L. Wentz, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of NJAMHAA.
NJAMHAA’s expansion to include substance use service providers is particularly strategic as the state, along with the rest of the nation, is contending with the heroin and opiate crisis. Most of NJAMHAA’s members also address mental illnesses, which are commonly present along with substance use disorders. They provide not only clinical treatment, but also a broad range of support services – including supportive housing, supported education and employment, and job and life skills training – to give individuals all the resources they need to live healthy and productive lives. The trade association has further expanded to include providers of services for individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities and co-occurring mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders.
“I am particularly proud that during my tenure as Board President, we evolved to represent not only the state’s community-based mental health providers, but also New Jersey’s community-based addiction treatment agencies,” said Jim Cooney, MSW, LCSW, Chief Executive Officer of Ocean Mental Health Services. “This broader membership strengthens us and our ability to advocate on the complex issues in achieving integrated health care and wellness and recovery for everyone.”
“NJAMHAA’s value is its multi-dimensional approach to advocacy on the local and national levels on behalf of its member organizations, giving us the ability to tackle one of the greatest challenges in behavioral healthcare – access,” said Deborah Hartel, MSW, ACSW, NJAMHAA Board President and Administrative Director of Behavioral Health Services at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center.
“NJAMHAA’s role and impact in the field of mental health has been tremendous and with the landscape becoming more complex, it can only be more important moving into the future,” added Anthony DiFabio, PsyD, Vice President of the NJAMHAA Board and President and CEO of Robins’ Nest, Inc.
“I am so impressed and inspired by all that our members do every day,” Dr. Wentz said. “Whether they work in an office or out in the community, reaching out to individuals who are living on the streets, providers are saving lives and enhancing the quality of life for children and adults throughout the state who face a variety of health-related and other challenges. I am proud to be their advocate for funding, legislation and regulations that support them in their vital mission.”
Annual Awards Reflect Providers’ Impact on Growing Need for Substance Use Treatment
“It is a meaningful coincidence that many of the providers whom our members nominated this year to receive Courage & Compassion Awards are in the substance use treatment field as addictions and the need for treatment have become more prominent in the media and a priority of our state and federal government leaders,” Dr. Wentz said. “NJAMHAA is also proud to recognize leaders in the state legal system and the federal government for their initiatives in addressing substance use issues, particularly the heroin and opiate epidemics, and the media covering these issues.”
During its Annual Conference, Innovating for Progress, Partnering for Solutions, at the Woodbridge Renaissance in Iselin, NJ, on April 13, 2016 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., NJAMHAA will present Courage & Compassion Awards to the following individuals:
* Oluwabunmi Browne, RN, Burlington PACT Team Leader, Catholic Charities Burlington PACT - Outstanding Direct Provider Award
* Alberta Montano-DiFabio, BA, SCD, LCADC, CCJS, Chief Clinical Officer, Seabrook House, Inc. - Outstanding Leadership in Substance Use Disorder Services Award
* Michael J. Paolello, MA, LCADC, CSW, Executive Director, Addiction Treatment Services, Bergen Regional Medical Center - Outstanding Leadership in Hospital-Based Substance Use Disorder Services Award
* Ken Pecoraro, LCSW, LCADC, CCS, Addiction Treatment Expert, CPC Behavioral Healthcare - Outstanding Leadership in Co-Occurring Disorder Services Award
* Michele Smith, BA, CADC, WTS, Director of Clinical Operations, Seabrook House, Inc. - Outstanding Peer Leadership Award
In addition, Dr. Wentz has selected the following supporters of the substance use and mental health system to be recognized:
* Robert Budsock, MS, LCADC, President and CEO, Integrity House and NJAMHAA Board Member - Political Spotlight Award
* Stephen Stirling, Data Reporter, NJ Advance Media - Truth in Media Award
* Wardell Sanders, Esq., President, New Jersey Association of Health Plans - Leadership in Health Care Award
* Kenneth Gill, PhD, CPRP, Founder and Chairman, Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions, Rutgers School of Health Related Professions - Inspirational Leadership Award
* Joseph D. Coronato, JD, District Attorney, Mulvaney, Coronato & Brady - Leadership in Reducing Drug Overdose Deaths Award
* Congressman Frank Pallone, U.S. House of Representatives - Federal Leadership for Health and Wellness Award